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American Forces Press Service

2006 DoD Authorization Act Promotes Recruiting, Retention

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2006 The 2006 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Jan. 6 provides a variety of military pays, benefits and incentives designed to boost recruiting and retention in the military, including a new $40,000 ceiling for enlistment bonuses and a $90,000 ceiling for re-enlistment bonuses.

The new law continues to bring military pay more on par with private-sector compensation, providing a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay hike and about 20 types of bonuses and special pays being added or increased, Chuck Witschonke, DoD's deputy director for compensation, told the American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

These programs enhance the entire military compensation package and make it more attractive to young people considering joining or staying in the military, he said.

The new law also authorizes some innovative concepts to help leaders attract and retain a high-quality force.

Among them is a measure that authorizes the secretary of the Army to offer a bonus of up to $1,000 for servicemembers who refer someone who enlists in the Army and successfully completes basic training.

This new bonus, if used, would essentially turn any active or reserve member who chooses to become one into a recruiter, Witschonke said. "It would establish a whole new field of recruiters who will help refer people into the military," he said.

Another innovation is a bonus of up to $2,500 for servicemembers who agree to transfer from one service to another and serve for at least three years.

Details of the program are still being worked out, but Witschonke said it will be an important incentive for servicemembers whose job series are being downsized to transfer their skills into another service that needs them, particularly the Army.

"There is a need and desire for us to take trained personnel from one service and, if they are interested, to have them transfer to another service," he said.

The new law gives the secretary of the Army a new, broad authority to offer creative new incentives to recruit enlisted members and officers. "We should see some innovative initiatives out of that," Witschonke said.

This temporary authority, to expire in December 2009, will give the Army the flexibility it needs to maintain enlistment rates that have recovered in recent months after a summertime slump, he said.

The law limits the Army to offering four new incentives, and for offering them to no more than 20 percent of its new accessions.

Recognizing the importance of the reserve components to national defense, the new law provides several initiatives to boost enlistment and retention in the Guard and Reserve.

These include a bonus of up to $100,000 over a career for members with a designated critical skill or who volunteer to serve in a designated high-priority unit.

The law also authorizes an increase in the maximum affiliation bonus for officers in the Selected Reserve, from $6,000 to $10,000 and an extension of eligibility for a prior-service enlistment bonus to include Selected Reserve members who previously received one, Witschonke said.

"There are a lot of things that are attractive in the bill and will support recruiting and retention," he said.

More information about pay and benefits is posted on DoD's military compensation Web site.

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